Following reports that the social media behemoth Facebook has acquired Chainspace, its first company in the blockchain space, we take a look at what this means.
The acquisition is no great shock, as within the last year, Facebook has been rapidly growing its blockchain competencies by hiring software developers, engineers and academics who are all experienced in the technology.
There are currently more than 10 job vacancies with the term ‘blockchain’ in its title, with an estimated 35 to 55 staff working within the division.
On the rise
A recent 2018 LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report names Blockchain Developer as one of the leading job markets and skillsets on the rise, with a 33X increase in a year.
Casey Kuhlman, co-founder and CEO of Monax, a blockchain-native SAAS company which aims to change the way people manage legal agreements says it is “indicative of blockchain’s ability to transform industries such as legal, banking, healthcare – the list goes on!”
“In particular, we have seen the focus shift towards use-cases as people continue to gravitate towards projects working to solve real-world problems,” Kuhlman says.
“Smart contracts simply make business contracting more efficient – offering a more fluid, inclusive and customised service than technology can.”
From a business perspective, smart contracts can answer the question ‘Where are we within our contracts?’
The fact that Facebook is leveraging experts in blockchain and smart contracts “shows they’re one step closer to reaping the benefits of the technology when it comes to efficiency, collaboration, and the streamlining of processes.”
And Elias Haase, co-founder and community manager of B9lab, an education provider, says: “With hindsight, it was inevitable that big companies would get involved with blockchain – both Amazon and Pfizer have obvious use-cases in supply chain.”
But there are other, less obvious and more sophisticated applications that an injection of large company money can accelerate, he says. “Their real impact on the community as a whole will depend on what they eventually choose to build on and on what protocol.
“Hopefully, the ICO and crypto hype is largely passing and real use-cases will have the chance to be funded,” he adds. “Now the demand has shifted to truly qualified, multi-protocol professionals who need to be able to build, rather than write specs for white papers. Those people are harder to come by.”
Even though the technology is yet to mature, the job market is already ahead of it. “It’s looking good for qualified, trained developers and executives, because let’s not forget, the executives need to understand the space too!”, he concludes. “All and all, it’s a positive move for the industry as we seem to be setting ourselves up to create for the long-term rather than react to Fear of Missing Out.”
And Rutger van Zuidam, founder and CEO of Odyssey, an open innovation program connecting ideas with governmental, corporate and non-profit partners to address complex societal change using blockchain, AI and emerging technologies welcomed it.
He says: “The impact of major players such as Facebook, Amazon and Pfizer entering the blockchain space completely depends on their perception as to why blockchains exist in the first place.”
“We have learned that the players who are building open markets and open data ecosystems that enable all possible stakeholders to contribute to collective success are the one who are well-placed to leverage blockchain.”
Echoing his colleagues, he says he has seen demand for blockchain-based jobs “skyrocket,” adding: “However the question is not whether the supply of talent meets the needs of the industry, but whether the industry is able to ask the right questions of the market in order to draw the right talent.”
Although big salaries inevitably attract ambitious talent, they have learned that the most ambitious and quality talent in the space is motivated by wanting to “change the way we organise our society and economy.” He adds: “They want to work on challenges that are not solvable by one organisation, but only through enabling many different stakeholders to collaborate through open digital public infrastructure.”
This infrastructure “can’t be owned by government or a corporation as this lacks the trust needed to drive adoption.”
Organisational challenges are a comparative “walk in the park” compared to engineering the complex systems supported by these new types of protocols.
And Nick Cowan, managing director and founder of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange GSX says: “We recognise that there is a need for more talent across the blockchain industry. Here in Gibraltar, the number of blockchain companies arriving compared to the relatively low number of those with skills or experience in blockchain is apparent.
“We believe that education and the development of a vibrant and knowledgeable community globally is the key to growing that talent pool. It’s not enough to compete for talent, all companies, especially the large traditional players now entering the space, will need to invest and grow the pipeline to prevent stagnation,” he says.
“This is why we, the GSX Group, started the Blockchain Innovation Centre. It is only through initiatives like this, that fosters partnerships across public, private and education sectors, that you can execute the vision of facilitating breakthroughs within the global blockchain community.”